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Here’s a Track, Here’s How It Was Made

June 13, 2012

Here’s a post I put up on the ableton forum about the making of this track

This track started with the acid riff and the percussion. It actually started with the more crazy, almost random sounding acid line that just had something that I felt stood up. The percussion sounds that glitch through the track are played from xfers nerve which also is triggering the more chaotic acid sound. The nerve then has is repeater effect trigger from my computer keyboard. These repeater triggers are then recorded into another midi track that I could move around. The percussion sound also was effected with a max4live step flanger from the pluggo folder with the tempo set to 90 so the effect combined with the project tempo in such away it wasn’t predicable.

Drum wise I like two schools of thought at the moment. I’ve always been into classic sounding patterns on classic machines like the 808 but I’m also really interested in the post dubstep and garage style just because it’s really inventiveness off the beat grid in terms of swing. After a bit of mucking about I went with the classic pattern which was at around 125bpm at this stage, I latter switched the tempo to 140 and then again to 137 and I made the kick pattern more sparse which also allowed me to open up the decay which I did while listening more to the rest of the track than the kick itself. I found there was a point where the shape of the kick perfectly supported what was going on around it.

I did have a cool subby acidic bass part that played off the acid sound but I reached that familiar point in a track where two sounds I like are pulling in opposite directions. This can be really draining trying to keep everything in and I think it’s made me leave tracks in frustration before, so these days I reckon if you want to get shit done decide which is your least favorite child and pull the trigger (or save the lips to your library for future use). Not having a sub to mix to the 808 made life a bit easier plus it meant I could be reasonably assured everything would sound good and balanced in the lows when the track plays out on a rig.

At this stage I wasn’t sure if the acid line was lacking a sense of being a melody or if I was just sick of hearing it again and again (which I’d also take as a bad sign, even after a few hour of the same loop) so I tried putting some complementary patterns together for it and after saving some interesting but incompatible stuff I found the two patterns that play off the more chaotic one. Finding the right distortion for the acid sound took a lot of time and I changed my mind a lot. I used the Ohmboyz Omicide and I tried the decimator style effects which sounded modern but too digital which made the xoxbox sound like an emulator, the vacuum tubes were good for subtle colour and the ‘broken’ presets which were good for bite. Initially what I wanted was the sort of flowing liquidy acid tones that you hear on EOD’s stuff and I was going to use minimal modulation of the cut-off etc… In the end I made my own Omicide settings with the best qualities of all the ones I tried and I kept the dry/wet low and mapped it to a rack macro so I could manipulate it when I recorded the synth setting modulations which were recorded live as the xoxbox doesn’t have midi control of parameters and it always sounds better that way anyway, at least it does if you like a rawer vibe. I recorded this on a separate channel from the sound card input without any of the effects that I used for tone, so I could flexibly change that aspect latter. Third take I was happy. I put a fast chorus after the Omicide as an experiment and tweaking the settings I was reminded of lots of different acid tracks so the chorus was a win. The referenced EOD acid sound went out the window as I went for something a little harder with more bite.

In the returns I had a reverb mainly fed from the snare for a nearly Joy Division – Decades style feel to it. I also used a spring reverb and a dubstation delay with a single repeat with no feedback.

The synth sound at the start of the track that comes in and out is from the korg monopoly vst. The sound has a fully open filter to contrast with the acid and uses the x-mod feature modulated with and lfo and the result is fed into another dubstation. The other blips are from an operator preset by CK that was shared on this forum. The low droning sound is from the latest detunized live pack

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